No Reason To Stop The Parliamentary Process From Continuing

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) takes into serious consideration the latest statement by the Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, Dato’ Rashid Hasnon who stated that the number of Members of Parliament (MPs) will be limited at the upcoming session of the Dewan Rakyat starting 6 September, on the grounds of curbing the spread of COVID-19. We also take note of the statement by the Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Health (MOH), Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah yesterday who stated that there were 97 positive COVID-19 cases linked to the Parliament including one death involving an officer for a deputy minister.

We are of the view that this is a repeat of the same reason used before to suspend the functioning of the Parliament. This is in light of the various available alternatives and technologies used by foreign counterparts so that their Parliaments can continue to operate effectively.

Is the proposal to limit the attendance of MPs to the Dewan Rakyat one of the attempts to delay and further postpone the sitting of the Parliament? Or is this a move to prevent the motion of confidence against the Prime Minister from running smoothly and fairly?

After the country has lived with the new norms and COVID-19 for a period of one and a half years, we, and the people as a whole, question the real efforts of the government, especially the MOH in providing a safe environment for parliamentary institutions, as the most important check and balance body of the country to continue to function. Suspending and postponing the Parliament is no longer the solution.

We urge the MOH and the Parliament of Malaysia to take proactive measures to encourage the institution of parliament to function safely and to curb the repetitive and redundant reasons of COVID-19 to hinder the democratic checks and balances of national policies. Amendments to the Standing Orders must be expedited to allow parliamentary sittings and Parliamentary Committee meetings to be held either virtually or in hybrid mode.

We would like to remind the DG of Health to be professional in discharging his duties and to remain politically neutral. MOH and the COVID-19 pandemic should not be used for the political interests of the Perikatan Nasional government to circumvent the vote of confidence in Parliament. Furthermore, if the DG of Health is not even able to bring the COVID-19 virus under control in one confined area of Parliament building for very important parliamentary sittings, can we actually expect him to be able to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide?

Finally, we believe that the stalled democratic process will further hamper efforts to address and curb the spread of the rapidly escalating COVID-19 pandemic. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Issued by:
BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee